DadCon 2018: Who let the dads out?
It’s not easy to meet other dads in the wild – not unless you actively make a beeline for fathers when you see them in public, which is unlikely to have the desired effect no matter how friendly you may think you are.
I mean, the past two encounters I’ve had with strangers while I’ve been with Roma resulted in one bloke leaving his child with me for over an hour and the other trying to get me to join UKIP. Needless to say, even I’m going to be on the back foot next time any dads head in my direction.
But DadCon, a day-long conference devoted to dadding, which covered everything from barbecues to blogging, set about changing that. Created by fatherhood community The Dad Network, the event is now its fourth year.
Having realised a bulk of the Instadads I’ve come to double-tap on a daily basis were going, I booked my ticket and got Saturday 23rd June in my calendar. Ahead of the day, I’d arranged to meet Matt (aka DaddyOfLittleLadies) at Liverpool Street Station after we’d previously caught up during a playdate with Roma and his youngest, Penny. He rocked up with Alex (aka daddy_to_triplet_girls), who neither of us had met before, and the three of us made our way to Sony Music in Kensington which should really tell you just how solid the Instagram community is for parents to connect.
Walking into the room was really surreal – and not just because we arrived late and got stared at on arrival. While I’d met a handful of Instadads in attendance, seeing those who usually sit in your pocket, all in one place, was jarring. And then there was the added confusion of knowing IG handles and not real names.
It wasn’t just Instadads there though, a big portion of attendees didn’t do the whole blogging thing and were simply there as Dad Network members eager to take on the activities that were lined up for the day.
Organix hosted one of the sessions, which was focused on baby food and explained how you can (attempt to) get a fussy eater to embrace new options. Given that Roma has never snubbed anything at this point, the speech could have easily fallen on deaf ears for me. But listening to the host I realised the lessons would be useful for Jenna. Do you know understand the lack of Indian takeaways that have been in my life since we met? Or what it’s like living with someone who doesn’t even like butter? As weird as it was brushing my teeth with a strawberry – we were all ordered to do it, I weren’t on my own – it had us all laughing, which Organix said is the desired effect when easing children into new tastes.
And speaking of laughs, the excellent comedian and author Sam Avery, also known as The Learner Parent, gave us all a reason to smile as he brought to life the hilarious and often bizarre realities of family moments and fatherhood, which closed down the day before everyone headed off for dinner and drinks.
The brilliant thing about the day overall though is that, while everyone had different circumstances and personalities, there was one key thing we all had in common – each of us was there because we’re committed dads that wanted to meet others. What other events are there where fathers can assemble in one place like that? I’m not aware that there are any, so fair play to The Dad Network’s Al and Jen for putting on the event.
Bring on DadCon 2019!